Youth Sports

Buzby: When you're on vacation, let your young athletes have vacation too

jonbuzby@hotmail.comJune 2, 2013 

As you read this, I'm most likely lying on a beach during my family's annual trip to the shore, covered in suntan lotion to the point of embarrassing my kids.

And while here, I've gone out of my way not to involve my children in one single youth sports-related game or activity. In fact, I've even insisted we don't keep score during the Wiffle ball game, knowing inevitably one team has to lose and tears are bound to follow.

I've come a long way. Or matured, as my wife would say.

I learned my lesson a few years back when our family vacation -- planned well before the baseball league all-star team was announced -- took my oldest son away from a handful of all-star practices.

We shortened the vacation slightly to avoid missing several practices, but I insisted on not completely canceling it. The manager agreed that my son would not be punished, as most every member of the team was going to miss at least one practice.

I still figured we should practice while on vacation. So every morning, while all the cousins frolicked at the pool waiting for the lifeguard stands to be propped up on the beach signaling it was open, my son and I grabbed our bats, gloves and a bucket of balls and headed to the local field for practice.

I suggested -- or more or less insisted -- we spend at least an hour having batting practice and infield practice before heading to the beach. My "threat" was that if he didn't return to the team in top form, he'd run the risk of losing his starting position. And although I didn't really believe that myself, he bought into it.

So we hit and fielded, sweat pouring down our faces. The ocean breeze could not be felt inland, but we couldn't escape the smell of the salty air or the sound of seagulls and planes dragging banners soaring overhead.

Knowing that we were supposed to be on vacation -- my son poolside with his cousins, me with a cup of coffee poring over the sports pages at this time of the morning -- made focusing nearly impossible. For both of us.

My son started pleading after 20 minutes that he was tired and ready to go back to the hotel. I continued to encourage him to keep practicing, "just like your teammates are at home."

The reality was his skills weren't improving at all while practicing on vacation. In fact, the only thing increasing was his frustration level -- and mine.

After the second day I put a stop to it and we didn't go back. On our last day at the beach we played miniature golf and went body surfing. My son's quote at the end of day said it all: "Dad, this was without a doubt the best day of vacation."

Contact Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @youthsportsbuzz on Twitter.

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